Updated at: 12/08/2012 9:05 PM
By MICHAEL MAROT
(AP) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Central Connecticut State coach Howie Dickenman expected to endure a rough Saturday night in Bloomington.
He never dreamed it would go quite this way.
On a night that the nation’s top scorer was held to just seven points, Matt Hunter finished with 40 _ becoming the first player from outside the Big Ten to score 40 points in a game at Assembly Hall, albeit in a 100-69 loss to No. 1 Indiana.
"When you have the leading scorer coming in and you’re Indiana, you’re going to make sure he doesn’t get anything, OK?" Dickenman said, referring to sophomore guard Kyle Vinales. "He really had some bad looks, got a little frustrated, took a couple of questionable shots. But his roommate from Detroit, Hunter, threw in 40. We never thought he’d get 40, we thought Kyle might get 40."
The turnabout was a huge surprise.
Vinales had been more proficient, shooting 46 percent from the field and averaging 25.9 points _ including at least 20 in six straight games. With Victor Oladipo defending him, Vinales went just 3 of 15 from the field and 0 for 4 on 3-pointers, finishing with seven points.
Hunter, meanwhile, came into the game shooting just 42 percent from the field and was just 2 of 18 from beyond the arc. Against the Hoosiers, he made 6 of 11 3-pointers, 13 of 25 from the field and joined Michigan State’s Shawn Respert (1995) and Terry Furlow (1976) as the only visiting players to score 40 in Assembly Hall. It wasn’t enough to prevent the Blue Devils (4-4) from losing their 12th in a row against the Big Ten.
"Quite frankly, it’s Indiana, and it’s in Assembly Hall and the tradition they had, we had some kids that we thought were a bit nervous coming in," Dickenman acknowledged, calling it a learning experience.
Indiana learned a few things, too, like what they must do better the next time they face dual scorer’s.
But overall, the Hoosiers (9-0) were up to their old tricks.
Christian Watford scored 21 points, Cody Zeller dominated inside with 19 points and 19 rebounds, and Oladipo had another solid all-around game with 15 points and his defense on Vinales.
"I think we’re playing well, but again I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface on how good we can be at both ends of the floor," Oladipo said. "I think if we keep (getting better), we’ll continue to play at a high level."
Indiana is playing pretty well right now, opening with nine wins for the second straight season. The Hoosiers have won 13 straight at Assembly Hall and 27 in a row at home against non-conference foes. This was their third-most lopsided victory of the season, and they seem to be getting more dominant with each game.
Indiana shot 54.2 percent from the field while holding the Blue Devils to just 33.3 percent. Oladipo also had nine rebounds, five steals, three blocks, two assists and repeatedly whipped the crowd into a frenzy with highlight-reel dunks and big plays.
The matchup was supposed to be an intriguing shootout between two strong offensive teams.
Instead, Indiana took advantage of one full week to prepare for the game and took control during one six-minute stretch in the first half.
The Hoosiers had only two real concerns all night.
They lost sophomore forward Austin Etherington with a left knee injury that coach Tom Crean described as "significant" even before the official diagnosis was in.
Etherington was surrounded by his teammates and coaches as he was lifted onto a stretcher and then wheeled off the court late in the first half. It’s another blow for a team that is still missing senior forward Derek Elston (knee surgery) and isn’t sure how quickly freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will get up to speed after serving the last game of a nine-game suspension imposed by the NCAA.
"I know they were really concerned about their friend and teammate," Crean said, referring to Etherington’s injury. "It was important they continued to play well and they did."
Central Connecticut State led only once _ after the first basket _ and hung around for about six minutes.
Then the Hoosiers dominated.
Ferrell started the decisive 22-2 run with a spinning 2-footer, Hulls followed with a 3, Zeller posted up for a layup, Maurice Creek hit another 3 and Zeller posted up for another layup. Oladipo closed the run three minutes later with a thunderous one-handed dunk that he turned into a three-point play, giving Indiana a 37-16 lead.
"Bottom line is there’s a lot of room for improvement in our team, that will never go away," Crean said. "We can get better, we will get better."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)